Xiong Yan an Iraqi war veteran, Chinese dissident and human rights activist is running in the Democratic primary on Aug. 23 to represent New York’s 10th congressional district. On July 23, he met with Mayer Berkowitz, a Williamsburg community leader in Brooklyn, to discuss his bid to represent the district.
Yan is facing off against a long list of candidates including Brian Robinson, Carlina Rivera and Jimmy Jiang Li.
As a young pro-democracy activist Yan stood up to China’s communist government, participating in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that ended in violence with thousands losing their lives at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Following the protests he fled to the United States as a political refugee and enlisted in the U.S. army, serving as a chaplain in Iraq.
“In China, I was a freedom fighter. I joined the Army when I came to America because I wanted to be a freedom defender,” he told the NY Post in May.
Yan remains a target of the CCP. In March of this year, Reuters reported that a Chinese government agent, Qiming Lin, allegedly contacted a “U.S.-based private investigator to help manufacture a political scandal that would undermine“ Yan’s congressional bid.
According to prosecutors Lin asked the private investigator, “If you don’t find anything after following him for a few weeks, can we manufacture something?” Reuters reported.
Lin has since been accused of conspiracy to commit interstate harassment, among other charges.
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Education was a topic Yan discussed with Berkowitz. Having earned six degrees himself, Yan is a strong proponent of public education and wants to fully support education for all children.
He believes the public education system can provide services designed to fit the needs of all students, schools and communities while providing an exceptional level of education.
Berkowitz said he hopes that Yan can sponsor various activities that allow schools and communities to grow and enhance their learning opportunities.
Soaring crime in New York was also top of mind for both Yan and Berkowitz. Both are focused on reducing crime in their community and discussed bail reform. The two discussed how implementing community-based programs designed by the police, including lawmakers, is important because, according to Yan, the police must ensure that citizens are protected, so that they do not take matters into their own hands.
The 10th Congressional District is under amendment following the 2020 census and is yet to be defined. Maps, drawn by Democrats, were recently struck down by the courts for partisan gerrymandering, the NY Post reported.
The primary was originally slated for June, however, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe of Albany, approved the delay in May saying that pushing back the primary to Aug. 23 would avoid a “chaotic situation” for voters.
According to the Associated Press (AP) “a group of voters represented by a Democratic lawyer fought the state judge’s decision to delay the primary, arguing it violated a decade-old federal court order that set the primaries in late June,” however were unsuccessful.